The Sophisticated Angeleno

December 14th, 2011

Every few months or so an article makes the rounds claiming that people in Los Angeles are the least well-read of any city in the United States, the implication being that we Angelenos don’t have a cultural bone in our allegedly spray-tanned, plastic-surgeried bodies. (One local bookstore even has a Who Says People in LA Don’t Read? T-shirt.) Having lived here off and on for about six years now, I know for certain that this simply isn’t the case. Sure, we’re the home of reality television and blockbuster films. And, yes, there are people here who dote on their purse-sized pooches and live for a weekly mani/pedi, but I don’t know any of them. From world class museums to lectures and independent bookstores, there are plenty of places for locals and visitors to get their cultural fix. Here are my favorites:

The Museum of Jurassic Technology
If a Victorian scientist had a two-story cabinet of curiosities, it would look like this.

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
Go for the art (including portraits by Sargent and Gainsborough), stay for the library’s collection of rare books, including the Ellesmere manuscript of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

Skylight Books
My neighborhood bookstore hosts an astounding number of free author events and has a bonus annex just for art books.

Small World Books
Tucked away on the Venice Beach Boardwalk of all places, Small World has a great selection of fiction, non-fiction, and mystery titles.

Zócalo Public Square
Great thinkers of all stripes and areas of expertise give lectures at Zócalo’s roving speaker series.

The L.A. Public Library’s ALOUD Series
From Jonathan Lethem to Joan Didion, the best and brightest authors talk about their works.

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Our Friends Say
  1. amp says:

    Hi Kim – wonderful stuff, all of it – but a little same ole, same ole – don’t forget the major multi-venue art experience happening now through February celebrating the art that put LA and southern California on the art map – Pacific Standard Time – at MOCA, The Getty, Santa Monica MUseum of Art, Otis, and on and on…Pacific Standard Time

  2. Booklover says:

    Oooh! I love learing about those little tucked away shops – coffee in hand, browsing the sci-fi section :) thanks for the info!

  3. Kim says:

    @amp: Great suggestions. These are just my personal faves and for some reason it took me a while to find out about them, but as you point out there are many, many great venues for art in L.A. We’re so lucky!

    @Booklover: You’ll love Small World.

  4. Harriet says:

    Great list Kim. I’d hardly call it same ole, same ole! The Museum of Jurassic History is one of my all time favorites. It’s so weird and wonderful. I’ve lived in L.A. for 20 years and I just love that there’s always some new-to-me tidbit to discover here. Now, thanks to you, I have some more exploring to do! Can’t wait to check out the speakers at Zócalo and peruse Small World Books.


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